SHANGHAI, Feb. 6 (SMM) –
According to China Customs, China's imports of copper concentrate (actual content) were 563,100 mt in December 2011, down 109,500 mt from November's peak of 672,600 mt, but still close to average levels. Although copper smelters continued normal production during the Chinese New Year holiday period, operating rates were down slightly and resulted in lower demand for raw materials compared with the previous month. Combined with declines in TC/RC for 2012 long-term imported copper concentrate contracts, China's imports of copper concentrate are expected to fall further in January.
China's imports of refined copper during December were 406,900 mt, up 63,000 mt from November and a record high for 2011. Markets digested this data fast since the increase in refined copper imports was predicted after preliminary data was released. Imported copper has been arriving at ports since early January, but China's imports of refined copper will show a significant decline during January due to the Chinese New Year holiday. Imports are estimated at around 300,000 mt.
China's imports of copper semis during December 2011 were 62,400 mt, virtually flat with November's level. Due to the low demand period at the year's end, as well as a relatively stable SHFE/LME copper price ratio, copper semis imports did not fluctuate during December. Since most copper semis end-users halted production for the Chinese New Year holiday, copper semis demand was down significantly and will be reflected in low imports of copper semis during January.